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21.05.2018

The Case of Luis Pato

In an attempt to shed more light on what makes for a memorable experience, we will periodically post case studies of wine tourism experiences that have ticked all the right boxes and are offering something unique.

To start off our series, we’ll look at one of our favorite producers here in Portugal, that of Luis Pato in Bairrada. We chose to start off with this one because it is an excellent example of an experience that combines two important features related to consumer value: emotional and educational value.  It is also a great example of what can be done on a limited budget in a region that may lack the glitz and glamour of famous wine regions.

Luis Pato is a household name in Portugal and it can said that he put Bairrada on the world wine map.  His Baga wines are internationally famous, as are his sparkling wines. And with each new vintage, it’s as if he keeps pushing the envelope and trying all sorts of new things – successfully good new things. But just because you make good wines, doesn’t necessarily mean your wine tourism experience is equally as good. In the case of Luis Pato, it is.

The Visit

Located one hour drive south of Porto, the winery lies about 30km inland from the Atlantic coast. A small and functional winery, the visit is quite simple: a tour of the winery followed by a tasting. The visitor starts at the top floor of the winery in the reception area, goes down the stairs to the cellar and then ends with view of the cellar and the wine library. It’s a short tour, perhaps 15 minutes but within this brief period the visitor learns about the star grape of the winery, the traditional winemaking style of the region, Luis Pato as an experimental winemaker, and Luis Pato as the rebel winemaker (Note: If Luis Pato is doing the tour himself, it might be slightly longer as he is known to take his guests into the winery and give barrel samples along with a thorough explanation of the winemaking process).

The Experience

The actual wine experience takes place in the tasting room and it is here where the visitor enters the world of the winemaker and gets completely immersed. The standard tasting comprises of 7 wines (2 sparkling, 2 white, 2 red and 1 sweet wine). Now, the wines selected for the tasting are not random. They are not the newly released wines that can be found at any store. They are wines that emphasize everything that was explained during the tour: the traditional nature of the winemaker (for example, with the ancestral method Maria Gomes sparkling wine); they highlight Baga and its fine-wine qualities, along with its aging ability (for example, a tasting of Quinta do Moinho 2000 and Vinha Formal 2012), and reinforce the experimental nature of the winemaker (the sweet wine AM). With each wine, there is an explanation of why Luis Pato decided to make this wine, the story behind it, the inspiration for it, the trial and errors of it and then the finished product.

Why it works:

By creating a tasting that offers a wealth of sensations, that is thought-provoking with a compelling story behind each wine, and with a likeable character that is Luis Pato, it automatically takes the experience from a standard wine tasting to once-in-a-lifetime tasting. In addition, the wines are explained in an easy and understandable way. The visitor, whether novice or expert, values the experience because it easy to understand through storytelling and a non-intimidating manner.

Wow Moment:

Included in our tasting was a 1995 Brut sparkling wine. It was not supposed to be included but was added at the last moment as it had been opened earlier during the day, as our guide explained. We were offered a tasting as something “special” and that we should try it to see how well the wines ages. Definitely a Wow moment! Offering your visitors something special and exclusive like this wine will generate all sorts of positive emotional responses.

The Special Touch:

Often times during our winery visits, we will see the winemaker on the premise at some point during the tour. Normally, they give a quick glance to the visitors and perhaps a nod. However, during our visit at Luis Pato, the winemaker himself stuck his head into the tasting room and said a quick hello and welcomed us. It may seem minor, but a simple gesture like this can go a long way in creating personal memories for your visitors.

Booking:

It’s important to remember that a wine experience is not just what happens at the moment of the visit. It is also what happens before and after the visit that make it complete. In this case, booking a visit at Luis Pato by email was easy and fast. We received a response within 24hs and were able to make adjustments to the visit the day before. In addition, we were given recommendations about lunch at a local restaurant to try the famous suckling pig.

Things to consider:

While the experience at Luis Pato is great, there are a few things that would make this wine experience even better and much more profitable as a business strategy.

Ask for the sale –  You have the end consumer at your doorstep. They’ve had a fantastic experience. They loved the wines.  Close the deal by actually selling the wines. Provide a list with wines tasted and the prices of each or show them the bottles at your wine shop if you have one. If you can ship to their home country, then make it happen.

Where to find the wines – At the end of the visit, provide a list of wine stores or distributors in your visitors’ home country. While this information is available on the webpage, your visitor will go home and forget. Offer to email that information to them.

Keep in contact – As we mentioned above, the before and after make an experience complete. It’s important to keep relationships alive and the best way to do that is by sending a thank you email to your visitor and to invite them back again. One step further would be to keep them on a mailing list (*with proper segmentation) so you can notify them of any tasting events in their region.

In Summary

The theme: storytelling of the rebel winemaker

The experience: premium wine tasting (*at an affordable price)

The target market: the wine enthusiast, wine lover and wine curious

Investment type for this kind of experience: low

The takeaway: By focusing on a simple message, with a less is more approach, the experience becomes memorable. The visitor remembers the wines of the region, the rebellious spirit of the winemaker, and the tasting ties everything together. The visitor leaves the tasting with a thorough understanding of what the Luis Pato brand means and can recognize the name and label anywhere.

*Look out for further posts on these topics.